Second temporary alternate channel opens around Key Bridge wreckage


As Unified Command opens the second alternate passage near the Francis Scott Key Bridge, emergency legislation is drafted to assist workers at the Port of Baltimore.

6 presumed dead in aftermath of Baltimore bridge collapse
Screenshot/NTSB B roll footage © NTSB

A second alternate passage near the Francis Scott Key Bridge has been opened by the Unified Command, as efforts to reopen the main shipping channel and unblock the Port of Baltimore for vessel traffic gain progress.

The second temporary alternate channel is located on the southwest side of the main channel near Hawkins Point, and has a controlling depth of 14 feet (4.2 meters), a 280-foot horizontal clearance, and a vertical clearance of 124 feet.

Baltimore: First vessel navigates alternate channel, but depth inadequate for large ships

“The opening of these two alternate channels and transit of critical response resources, as well as the first commercial traffic movements through the area, is a significant milestone in our response efforts,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Baxter Smoak, operations section chief of the Key Bridge Response 2024.

“Our number one priority remains the opening of the deep draft channel. We are simultaneously focused on opening additional routes of increased capacity as we move forward.”

Meanwhile, emergency legislation is being drafted by House and Senate leaders to help workers at the Port of Baltimore.

State Senate President Bill Ferguson said that the bill was essential to support those affected by the Port of Baltimore closure and provide financial relief and certainty for them and their families.

As of now, the exact number of individuals who may qualify for assistance under the bill’s provisions and for how long remains uncertain. It’s anticipated that the bill will mainly impact self-employed individuals, who typically don’t qualify for traditional unemployment insurance benefits.

According to an initial assessment by MDL, it’s projected that program expenditures for fiscal years 2024 and 2025, which include administrative expenses, could amount to approximately $48.3 million. This estimation is based on providing a biweekly benefit of $700 to potentially 10,000 individuals for a period of 12 weeks.

In the year 2023, the Port of Baltimore ranked ninth among U.S. ports for both tonnage and the value of foreign cargo handled, facilitating the movement of 52.3 million tons valued at $80.8 billion. Notably, the port secured the top spot nationally for the handling of autos and light trucks, surpassing 847,000 vehicles, as well as for roll-on, roll-off heavy farm and construction machinery, totaling 1.3 million tons, and imported sugar and gypsum.

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